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WHO chief warns coronavirus pandemic 'accelerating'

Tedros warned that the virus is still “spreading fast” and that measures like social distancing, mask wearing and hand-washing are still critical.

The head of the World Health Organization said the coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating” and that more than 150,000 cases were reported yesterday — the highest single-day number so far.

In a media briefing on Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said nearly half of the newly reported cases were from the Americas, with significant numbers from South Asia and the Middle East.

“We are in a new and dangerous phase,” he said, warning that restrictive measures are still needed to stop the pandemic. “Many people are understandably fed up with being at home (and) countries are understandably eager to open up their societies.” But Tedros warned that the virus is still “spreading fast” and that measures like social distancing, mask wearing and hand-washing are still critical.

He noted the toll would be especially great on refugees in particular, of whom more than 80% live in mostly developing nations.

“We have a shared duty to everything we can to prevent, detect and respond to the transmission of COVID-19 detected among refugees in hospitals.”

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For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

The United States has nearly 2.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University.

On Friday, the U.S. had more than 118,00 deaths from the virus. Worldwide, there are more than 8.5 million confirmed cases with more than 454,000 deaths.